Kepler 22b and Climate Change: Instead of Obsessing over Earth-Like Planets, lets Try to Keep this one Earthlike

Dear earthlings:

It doesn’t do you any good to get all excited about finding earth-like planets like Kepler 22-B where the average temperature is 72 degrees F (22 C.), if you are going to turn your own planet into a sweltering tropical swamp.

Kepler 22b system

The Durban climate conference about the fate of our own planet has been a miserable failure. Even China’s surprise announcement of willingness to talk about binding emissions limits is less than meets the eye. We are on track for a rise in average temperatures of some 5 degrees Celsius, something the earth hasn’t experienced since the Eocene 50 million years ago (when there was no surface ice and the world was tropical to the poles, and a third more of the land mass was under water).

It is all very well to wax poetic over earth-like planets out there, but let’s try to keep this one earthlike.

NASA Ames news conference on Kepler 22b:

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7 Responses

  1. I agree climate change is the biggest problem we face, but we need to explore space and support these programs. The history of science has taught us that solutions are not obvious and non-linear. I suggest reading some Neil deGrasse Tyson:

    The sad truth is that whoever criticizes the space agency always does it from a complete ignorance of what NASA actually does. Those people are truly clueless about their missions, their projects, what they entail, what they mean, and their impact in every level of our society. Not only for its educational value, for the inspiration it brings to young girls and boys who want to become engineers instead of Kim Kardashian or Charlie Sheen. Not only for advancing the technology industry in a way that trickles down to every single piece of technology in our hands today. Not only for the countless discoveries that have advanced our understanding of the Universe, our planet and our species. Or for the networks of satellites that track Earth to prevent disasters, help farmers all around the world or protect our environment.

    No, it’s not for any of those particular reasons, but all of them together, a higher value that is greater than the sum of its parts. A greater good. When I think about the magnitude of their labor and compare it to the actual cost—only half a penny of your tax dollars!—it just makes me want to crotchpunch any moron who whines every time a probe reaches a distant planet, a telescope is deployed or a rocket is launched.

  2. The issue of this essay is not to criticize NASA or any particular discovery.

    The issue is to RESIST the tendency of the USA’s MSM — its MEGAPHONES-of-the-1% — who will use any story, any idea, any distraction (sports, popular music, movies, fancy new consumer technology) TO TAKE PEOPLE’S MINDS OFF THE REAL PROBLEMS.

    Global warming is THE ISSUE of our times, and has been had we but known since 1980 or so.

    “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH” is no joke. Here is a SATIRICAL TREATMENT of USA’s governance as to this and other matters.

    Thank you, Juan Cole.

    • Well gee, if the end of the world is nigh, it must be high time to make it possible, by stripping the wealth of the planet we were originally stuck with, for the 1% to gather up their wealth and their retainers and zoom off to f**k up some other world!

      Wasn’t that what those admirable aliens featured in “Independence Day” were all about? A perpetual locust swarm, or maybe March of the Army Ants? Eating everything, for the simple motive of making more of themselves, titillating themselves endlessly?

    • If that is the point then it is poorly made, how about critiquing the latest range rover advert, or something similar. Not science organisations who are the ones who are providing the knowledge, measurements and solutions to understand the crisis.

      • The other cool part about Science is that the same set of processes is used to discover how to make DDT and chlorofluorocarbons and semiconductors and really big machines to mountaintop-mine and PET plastics and of course nukular weapons and other Really Cool Stuff, which if “deployed” in large enough numbers, a fine research project in itself, might make just enough Nukular Winter to counteract both the Arab Spring and the Long Hot Global Summer.

        Seems to me the real question, to which I very much doubt Science (or religion, or metaphysics for that matter, certainly not “economics”) can provide an answer, is “Whether humans are smart enough to think their way out of the coalsack their limbic systems have led them to create, using all the tools of Science and the arts of Politics, or whether we are at the point in the long, terminal velocity Fall where we are just about to hit the pavement.”

  3. The late Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin gained fame (and, in some circles, notoriety) for awarding his “Golden Fleece” awards to projects that he considered the epitome of wasteful Federal Government spending. One of his finest awards went to the project that attempted to find radio transmissions from outer space that might indicate intelligent life. Senator Proxmire’s comment accompanying the award was: “Why are we searching for intelligent life in the universe when there is none to be found in Washington?”

  4. Personally, I don’t think the two subject matters are in any way mutually exclusive. In fact, discoveries such as these can excite the public imagination in ways that lead to greater interest in science in general, and that can only be a good thing, especially given the anti-science dimension to climate change denial.

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